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10 - The Perils of Privatized Marriage

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  05 November 2011

Joel A. Nichols
University of St Thomas, Minnesota
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Governments around the world continue to struggle with how to accommodate religious minorities in an increasingly pluralistic society. In February 2008, the Archbishop of Canterbury called for a “plural jurisdiction” in which Muslims could choose to resolve family disputes in religious tribunals or in British courts. A firestorm of controversy erupted in response. The Bishop of Rochester, Dr. Michael Nazir-Ali, protested: “It would be impossible to introduce a tradition like Shari’a into [the] corpus [of British law] without fundamentally affecting [the] integrity” of British law. Prominent Islamic scholar Sheikh Ibrahim Mogra called these fears “Islamophobic,” but observed, “[T]he vast majority of Muslims do not want to see a parallel … system for Muslims in our society.”

Lawmakers responded to the Archbishop’s comments. Nick Clegg, Britain’s Liberal Democrat leader, stated: “Equality before the law is part of the glue that binds our society together. We cannot have a situation where there is one law for one person and different laws for another.” The Prime Minister proclaimed that “British law should apply in this country, based on British values.” On the heels of the Archbishop’s comments, British authorities reported that 17,000 women were victims of honor-related violence annually, raising caution flags about how women, and children, will fare in such a system – the subject of this chapter.

Marriage and Divorce in a Multi-Cultural Context
Multi-Tiered Marriage and the Boundaries of Civil Law and Religion
, pp. 253 - 283
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2011

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